Appeals Court Affirms Dismissal of Suit Over Guantanamo Suicides
The DC Appeals Court today upheld the dismissal of a lawsuit by surviving relatives of detainees who committed suicide at Guantanamo. While the district court cited failure to state a claim as a basis for the dismissal, the Appeals Court cites the Military Commissions Act(Section 7(a) and 28 USC 2241 (e)) as depriving federal courts of jurisdiction to hear claims regarding conditions of confinement (as opposed to habeas claims regarding lawfulness of detention.)
The Military Commissions Act of 2006 results in no remedy being available. The Court (opinion here) says tough luck.
“Not every violation of a right yields a remedy, even when the right is constitutional.”
This is not the first case to so hold, especially when only money damages are sought.
For example, in United States v. Stanley, the Court refused to create a Bivens cause of action for a military serviceman who had been secretly administered doses of LSD; in doing so, the Court noted that it was “irrelevant to [the analysis] whether the laws currently on the books afford Stanley . . . an ‘adequate’ federal remedy for his injuries.” 483 U.S. 669, 683 (1987).
The DC Court also ruled:
The Supreme Court did not declare § 2241(e)(2) unconstitutional in Boumediene and the provision retains vitality to bar those claims.
As one of the lawyers for the families that sued says:
For background, see this 2006 Guardian report, How US hid the suicide secrets of Guantanamo.
"The court's decision today means that men like them can be tortured and even killed at the hands of U.S. officials, and no court can have anything to say about it."
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